Paul is a really amazing guy. He retained his joy despite crazily hard circumstances.
Let’s read a bit of this passage
“¦I press on to take hold(X) of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.(Y) 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind(Z) and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on(AA) toward the goal to win the prize(AB) for which God has called(AC) me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
You would think that being in chains and being handcuffed would have dampened his enthusiasm. Maybe you would feel as though God had forgotten you or something had gone wrong…. would you be able to feel joyful in that place? You would want people to comfort YOU wouldn’t you?
Perhaps the reason we don’t feel joyful is that our definition of joy is messed up. If we think joy means “feeling good” all the time then I think we will be disappointed because we all know that’s not possible. Even for those who are naturally optimistic and fun-loving.
We have to start somewhere more realistic “” and closer to Scripture.
So here’s the definition I’m going to use today.
Joy is the promise that God is in control and the choice I make to praise Him in every situation.
It’s an active thing – God’s promises are ongoing, everlasting.
What would make you joyful about the future? Some of us want the next iphone or the newest car or the best gadget”¦. We think that will make us happy.
But would these thing bring you joy? Probably not. They are possessions. Joy is not a possession. As the CS lewsis quote I used yesterday said it reminds us of something greater.
Remember we have defined joy as the promise that God is in control and the choice I make to praise Him in every situation.
I used to write to American prisoners and all of them were pretty miserable about being incarcerated. They asked for something every time they wrote ; stamps, aftershave, money, pens.
Paul’s joy doesn’t depend on what he is getting. It depends on what he is giving. He chooses to be joyful and talk about his joy. Why? Because he is sure God is in control. He is secure.
So much so that He uses the word Joy or rejoice 16 times in this letter alone.
Do you feel joyful about your future?
We have remarkable machinery in our head that means we can imagine the future. No other animal can do this as far as we know. We predict our own future all the time.
But we don’t have to worry about what will happen to us.
You see God has told us our future. It is that He will do us good and prosper us and not harm us Jeremiah 29; 11
For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. (Amplified version)
The truth is, circumstances don’t make us joyful. The promises of God do!
God will use everything for our good and His glory.